Bruschetta served on a wooden board with artichoke

Bruschetta 101

I have been obsessed with bruschetta ever since I returned from Italy. I could eat it every day, and while some people might think it’s boring and or repetitive, it’s anything but. All you need is a little thought and planning and you can make so many different combinations. Plus, it’s good for you when it’s loaded with vegetables and it’s downright delicious. Here are my three staples (plus one for the carnivores), which you can make on the same night if you’re serving a crowd or just combine a few of them if it’s just you … and remember, cooking is all about having fun and experimenting. Don’t be afraid to add or subtract as you see fit, what I listed below are just a few of the toppings I usually have on hand. Heck, you might even try making breakfast bruschetta with eggs (if you eat eggs) and grilled asparagus. Anyway, you do you, and ENJOY!

Bruschetta Basics

PREP TIME: 40 minutes | COOK TIME: 20 minutes | SERVES: Depends

  • 1-2 loaves of Italian bread, or any kind of “country” bread that can be sliced without losing its integrity
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Fresh tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Zucchini
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Fresh basil
  • Caponetta olives
  • Capers
  • Buffalo mozzarella
  • Pesto sauce
  • Roasted red peppers
  • Sun dried tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper
  • Parmesan
  • Steak, shrimp or chicken (if you really feel the need to make one with meat)

The Bread: Slice it into ½-inch thickness, doing your best to keep the pieces even. Place on a large baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 350 degrees for 7 minutes, flip and bake another 5 minutes. The trick is to just barely crisp it, but not toast it. Remove from oven and set aside.

Eggplant, Zucchini and Roasted Peppers: Slice eggplant, zucchini and red pepper fairly thin. Brush with garlic and olive oil, then bake or broil—or, even better, grill or cook on one of those cast iron skillets with grill marks. Cook until slightly browned, about 5 minutes a side. Remove from heat and then begin layering your bread. Don’t over-layer, a lot of people make the mistake of making it too thick. Broil for about 7 minutes, watching it closely so it doesn’t burn.

Plum Tomatoes and Artichokes: I like to pre-cook my tomatoes with garlic and olive oil in a skillet, for about 7 minutes. Then layer the bread sliced with both the tomatoes and artichoke hearts. Broil for about 7 minutes, then when you take it out of the oven, top with fresh basil and or parmesan if you desire.

Yellow Tomatoes and Caponetta Olives: Pretty much do exactly what you would do for the one above, but add the olives to the pan and extra garlic. Then follow the same directions.

For the Carnivores: Grill steak and slice thin—you can do chicken or shrimp as well. Take your bread and spread pesto over each slice. Add the steak, tomatoes and a thin piece of buffalo mozzarella. Broil for about 7 minutes.

Vegan Italian Calzone

There’s more to love about Italian food than cheese, tomatoes and bread … lots more … but those things are pretty good! And here’s an amazing way to enjoy those things on a plant-based diet : )

Keep reading

On Being a Flexitarian

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